Piney Grove First Baptist Church celebrates 109th year anniversary
Piney Grove First Baptist Church celebrates 109th year anniversary
On May 18, 2013, the First Baptist Church Piney Grove held a family cookout to coincide with a weeklong of activities. The church celebrated its 109th anniversary with several other activities which included church services, a gospel concert, and special proclamation ceremony from local and state elected governmental officials.
By Charles Moseley
Article contributed by Roland Foulkes
Imagine if you will the Fort Lauderdale as it existed during the late 1890’s. A group of Black men came to this Southeastern part of Florida from the northern part of the state, parts of Georgia, and the Bahamas Islands to work on the Florida East Coast Railway.
Others took up sharecrop-ping and soon a community began to emerge complete with Black owned businesses.
Soon these men were joined by their families at the turn of the century. The area of the town which was designated for Blacks was commonly referred to as “Colored Town.”
Quite naturally these hard working God fearing folk needed a place to worship.
Today it has been over 100 years since a group of 11 God fearing folks planted the seeds which have grown into a church which is having a far reaching impact to communities spanning the globe.
The Piney Grove First Baptist Church recently celebrated its 109th anniversary and is one of Broward County’s most significant historical institutions.
The history of Fort Lauderdale’s oldest Baptist Church reads as follows:
“To this congregation belongs the distinction of being the City of Fort Lauderdale’s most unusual church. The church was organized under the name Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church in 1904, under the pastorate of the Reverend B.F. Goodwin of Lemon City, Florida. Eleven members comprised the congregation. They were Rev. Shelly, Brothers Jack Norris, Joe Robbins, C. S. Bryant, Joseph Lewis, John Bell, and James Bynum; Sisters Monie Bryant, Mary Bell, Mary Bynum, and Lucretia Jordan Jackson. It was located on the corner of Second Street and Brickell Avenue, under a bush arbor.”
“Sister Mary Bell named the church Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Shortly after the church was established, a generous white gentleman, Mr. Thomas Bryant, gave permission to the members to use their schoolhouse to hold services.
The building was located on the corner of Broward Boulevard and Third Avenue. Meetings were held in that building for only a few months. During that period the membership increased. Some of the new members were Brothers James R. Williams, Mansel Calloway, Sister Viola Stewart, Rachel Calloway, and Jennie Lee Bragdon.”
“After a number of years, the Reverend Thomas Allen was called, and it was under his leadership that C. S. Bryant was elected as chairman of the Deacon Board. The church bought Block 10 on Northwest Fourth Avenue. In 1911 the pastor and members disagreed and the church was sold. The members then purchased another lot on the corner of Second Street and Fourth Avenue, to find out later that they had built the church on the wrong lot. Within thirty days of that notice, the church purchased the lot on which the church had been built.”
Another excerpt taken from the Church History reflects the further growth and development of the church:
“Since the year 1995, First Baptist Church Piney Grove’s history continued on the rise with Reverend Joseph L. Roberts, as Pastor. In 2004, Reverend Roberts established a year-long observance including the erection of a monument at the site of our original church site near the corner of Northwest Fourth Avenue and Second Street in Fort Lauderdale. That site has been designated as an historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, because First Baptist Church Piney Grove is the oldest Baptist church in Fort Lauderdale. Also under Pastor Roberts’ leadership, 6.5 acres of land was purchased for a new church at 4699 West Oakland Park Boulevard. The construction of the new edifice began in 2003 and was completed in 2005.”
Today under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Derrick J. Hughes the church continues to strive to fulfill the spiritual as well as practical needs of the community.
“Since arriving at Piney Grove First Baptist Church in September of 2010 it has been a very exciting experience not only for me but also the church. The excitement has spilled over to just change. The enthusiasm in worship as well as in attendance and we see people participating in ministry we’ve seen numbers that we haven’t seen before. We have grown over 1,100 people since we started. We’ve seen an increase in offerings just the amount of people participating in ministries means we have been able to launch out into different things and initiatives like the All Boys School Piney Grove Academy in the fall and so it has been just a wonderful time.”
“I think that being the first Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale of any racial mix at 109-years-old we believe in continuing the tradition of being first and opening up the level of ministry A big part of my focus here at Piney Grove is to take us to a new level of ministry here at Piney Grove is to continue to build. I think we have a vision of having a congregation of over 10,000 with all different ethnicities. We are certainly on our way to do that now. We feel that we ought to have a tangible impact on the community, and in terms of the surrounding areas but we also want to have an impact upon in terms of all our ministries to be conducive toward expansion. We believe in kingdom building.”
“I think that as far as our vision we’re expanding we’re growing as far as our congregation. We are seeing growth so we will be adding another service in the future. In terms of being a global ministry we will be launching a new clinic in Haiti. Our thing is to produce the gospel globally we see expanding and our method of doing ministry is through kingdom building and spreading the gospel across the globe to as many souls as we can reach,” added Reverend Hughes.
The members of the Piney Grove First Baptist Church located in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida celebrated their 109th Anniversary began with a series of anniversary celebrations on May 14, 2013 with a proclamation presented by Mayor Barrington Russell in the City of Lauderdale Lakes City Commission Chambers. The proclamation was accepted on behalf of the church by church member Roland Foulkes, Church Servicemen. Lance Chaney-St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church, Wednesday night church service, Rev. Rickey Scott-New Hope Baptist Church, Thursday night Gospel Concert, Rev. Melvin Dawson, and Sunday afternoon service, Rev. Joseph Turner-Mt. Mariah Baptist Church. On May 19 was culminated by a the church’s 109th anniversary service; Lauderdale Lakes Mayor Barrington Russell and Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness presented proclamations designating the historic event. The church also received proclamations from Governor Rick Scott and State Senator Chris Smith’s office.
Deacon Calvin Lamar was in charge of coordinating the church’s 109th Anniversary provided his insight on the church’s special occasion.
“The significance of the church anniversary personally means that we are building on the legacy that our pioneers started over 104 years ago. They did it with limited resources and we have more resources to build on that so that we can continue to build and be of service to the community. I see First Baptist Piney Grove playing a significant role as far as the services it provides we’re getting ready to start our Boy’s School as far as doing something for our Black males and we’ve increased our scholarships award. We’re growing to the point where we are establishing a Legacy Scholarship. We normally just gave scholarships for one year not we plan on continuing to give students funds continuously each year.”
Gina Hankerson is a dedicated church member Gina Hankerson who owns Angelic Monument Company, Inc. She shared a few thoughts about serving in the church ministry and why she felt the church has continued to strive for more than 100 years.
“Yes I am active in the church’s Evangelism ministry. We do monthly community outreach in local neighborhoods and provide church service to the residence of The Palms Nursing Home. In addition the church offers to those in need of prayer, drive through prayer at 2 p.m. every second Saturday, of each month at 2 p.m.; anyone driving pass the church can drive up, stay in their vehicle and have our prayer team pray with and for them. They may even give their life to Christ. I also work with the media ministry.”
“I am sure it wasn’t always easy. However; I feel that it is wonderful to know that the church family loves the Lord and those they have stayed together, prayed together and they continue to build the kingdom of God,” Hankerson added.